London Fashion Week’s designers and brands are embracing technology and experiential in a way that complements their clothing, says Tom Hall.
Oftentimes, fashion designers are put off by anything that could distract from their clothing range, hence the plethora of minimalist, identikit events – photos from which render the event relatively anonymous.
The reasoning behind this is understandable. However, as technology improves, the fashion zeitgeist has embraced creativity, production and full immersion.
The backdrops are more showy, projection and projection mapping have been used more boldly, and the sets have embraced high concept design.
Spotlight on: Richard Quinn
Access caught up with Sharon Head, sales manager pro displays, Epson UK, to discuss designer Richard Quinn’s projection-heavy London Fashion Week show.
When did Richard Quinn approach you for the project, and how did it come together?
We started working together with Richard in 2016 when he graduated from Central St Martins. He used our printers for his graduation collection whilst at the college and was keen to continue using them. He won the international 2017 H&M Design Award, was named as one of Dazed Magazine’s ‘Dazed100’ cultural influencers in 2017, and was tipped as the British Fashion Council’s ‘One to Watch’ in 2017, so we were keen to work with him! We helped him launch the Richard Quinn Print Studio, a unique textile printworks offering Epson dye sublimation and traditional screen printing services and workshops.
Based in Peckham, London, it features an Epson SureColor SC-F9200 digital dye-sublimation printer complementing two manual screen printing lines. The space gives fashion students and designers an affordable facility where they can source their printed textiles and obtain expert advice about different print techniques, dyes, textiles and alternative materials from Richard and his expert technicians. In addition, Richard designs, prints and sews his own haute-couture pieces in the studio and the facility is also available for other designers to print their own textiles onsite if they wish.
How was the event received?
I think you only have to read some of the amazing press reports to see that the event was a huge success. The fashion world was watching with anticipation to see what Richard would do, following the appearance of Her Majesty The Queen at his previous LFW show earlier this year. I think it’s fair to say he delivered an amazing show which was a fitting climax to London Fashion Week, with many proclaiming it as the highlight. The live orchestra and our projection mapping really brought the event to life and complimented Richard’s incredibly vibrant designs perfectly.
Mark Rivkin, CEO at Crucial FX, designed the projection mapping and worked on the installation. Speaking about some of the challenges he faced, he commented:
“The challenge was creating visually compelling content which fitted in well with the rest of the show, and wasn’t distracting – the new clothing range had to be the star of the show.
Fitting in with very tight turnarounds between the different shows in the week was tricky. As was rigging projectors which were small enough to be visually unobtrusive but powerful enough to work against the bright lights of the cat walk.
Then we had to mix the live content of the orchestra with the realtime NOTCH effects we created for the show, and blend this with the content we created.”
Case study: Chubby Cloud, London Fashion Week
Client: Anya Hindmarch
Event: Chubby Cloud, London Fashion Week
Venue: Banqueting House
Date: 14-16 September, 2018
Number of attendees: 3000
Following the success of her heart balloons in February, Anya Hindmarch injected an extra dose of happiness into London Fashion Week at Whitehall’s Banqueting House. Visitors sunk into the world’s biggest beanbag, designed to mirror the cloud theme in her autumn/winter 2018 collection, as they looked up at the magnificent 17th century Rubens ceiling – the largest surviving work by the artist still in its original location in Europe.
Why did you choose Banqueting House for ‘Chubby Cloud’?
There was a lovely synergy between the ‘Chubby’ Cloud and the ‘chubby’ Rubens figures in the cloud-filled ‘Ascension to Heaven’ ceiling painting in Banqueting House’s Main Hall. It was the perfect ‘light bulb’ moment when we made this connection!
How did you come up with the initial concept of ‘Chubby Cloud’?
Following on from our ‘Chubby Hearts over London’ campaign that we created for London Fashion Week in February, we wanted to create a ‘Chubby Cloud’ inspired by the little cloud motif in our new Chubby bag collection. So we made the ‘Chubby Cloud’ motif into what was essentially the world’s biggest beanbag.
What was the kind of experience you were hoping to create?
We wanted to speak directly to our customers and (quite literally) immerse people in our world and our brand and for them to experience things that we love. We ran a series of live talks, experiences, meditations and music, with highlights including bedtime stories read by Poppy Delevingne and Claudia Winkleman, Anya Hindmarch in conversation with the Telegraph’s Fashion Editor, Lisa Armstrong, Professor Russell Foster talking about and even Radio 4’s Shipping Forecast read live to music, all enjoyed on the ‘Chubby Cloud’.
Who was invited to the event?
The three day experiential installation was open to the public. We also held an industry event for press and buyers from leading media and department stores from across the world who were in London for London Fashion Week. Tickets for the events were in support of Historic Royal Palaces’ charitable cause, which reinvests event proceeds into conservation, public access and educational activities at the six palaces in their portfolio to ensure they continue to be well-maintained and open for all to enjoy.”
How early did the planning process begin and what did it involve?
The event was six months in the planning. It started with us approaching the incredible team at Historic Royal Palaces to explain the idea as we had created it specifically for this space. It was a BIG dream and they helped it become a reality. We then had to create the world’s biggest beanbag working with a specialist team who would respect the building and all its important regulations, embracing the complicated engineering required to make this dream a reality.
What was the duration of the setup and what did it involve?
We had access to the space for one day before the event launched. There were a lot of hands involved as the ‘Chubby Cloud’ beanbag had to be filled on site. We also set up a Chubby café and a Chubby shop for guests to enjoy.
Was there any notable production/catering?
There was a Chubby Café, where guests could enjoy chubby inspired cakes, and we also had a small pop up store with the Chubby collection and some special Chubby Cloud merchandise. In addition we held a very special dinner for key international buyers attending London Fashion Week.
How did guests respond to the activations and the venue?
Tickets were sold out for all of the events. The response exceeded all of our expectations (with a reach of 9 million at last count through Instagram) but mainly it was seeing the smiles on the nearly 3000 faces that passed through that was the ultimate feedback.